Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Special Items for Everyday

There are certain items in my wardrobe that, no matter how bold my sartorial experiments may be, will just never make it into my daily wear. One such example is my mini top hat, which would have looked smashing with this outfit, but which simply doesn't belong in the office. Instead I used this little plaid cloche as a substitute, while all day long I imagined I really looked like this:

It's fine to have a few things in your wardrobe that you reserve only for non-work use. As a rule though, I think it's best not to keep too many of them, because for most of us, reserving clothes only for 'special' occasions means they don't get worn enough to make them worth owning. They take up closet space, they're often expensive, and they taunt you day after day with their loveliness while you go schlumping out in your boring black dress slacks and sensible shoes.

There are plenty of ways to dress down items in your wardrobe that you might currently consider to be off-limits for daily wear. Why not try pulling them out and giving them the airing they deserve? A mini top hat might be crossing the line for your average daytime office setting, but I've toned down ruffles, sequins, dominatrix boots, and even a Derby-worthy hat at work. Pair a sexy top with a boxy blazer and a pair of jeans; wear a slinky dress with a soft cardigan, chunky scarf, and boots; but don't let your best items languish in your closet because you don't think you have anything dressy enough to wear them to. Here are a few tools that you probably already have at your disposal to help you pull off those 'special' items in your daily wear:

Denim: Jeans and other denim items are the great casualizers of the world. Even the most ethereal top can be brought back down to earth with a well-worn pair of jeans. Denim jackets and vests can be thrown over dresses to give them a relaxed, daytime look.

Menswear: A button-down shirt, vest, or blazer is a great way to offset even the girliest of dresses or floaty tops. Try a simple, boxy cardigan over a flowy dress, or a button-down underneath a sheer top (examples here and here).

Flat shoes: A simple pair of flats or low-heeled boots makes any outfit look more demure; you might think that miniskirt is too sexy for work, but you'd be suprised how different it looks with a pair of flats. Conversely, you can pull off even a sexy pair of platforms if you've got the right pair of long, wide-legged dress pants to go with them.

Patterns: Try a preppy plaid or a sensible stripe to downplay frills, feathers, florals, and other flashy finishes. The contrast of a conservative pattern against a flamboyant one makes for an interesting look.

What special items do you have hiding, neglected and barely-worn, in your closet? Isn't it about time they saw the light of day?

Cloche: San Diego Hat Co.
Mini top hat: Audra Jean
T-shirt: Rock Steady
Waistcoat: Heathen
Jeans: Joe's
Boots: vintage


Stephanie N. said...

I'm happy to say that I have very few items now that don't get worn at least once in a while. In fact, it was first reading your and Kasmira's blogs (and now I read way too many blogs to count...) that got me to start thinking in this new way over the past year.

Re-organizing my closet really helped. I had a big (rarely touched) special-occasion section, but I took a lot of those things out and put them in other sections so that I'd stop thinking of them as only for special occasions. Some of the best examples are skirt-and-top or skirt-and-jacket ensembles that I separated. So the skirts are with the skirts, and the jackets/tops are with jackets/tops, and I wear them much more because I no longer think of them in terms of "have to wear mathing set." It's much more fun to mix it up. Now the special-occasion section is tiny!

But, since you asked, my most neglected and barely-worn items: a floppy sun hat that's about 2' in diameter; my two pairs of high-heeled shoes that aren't boots (this is why I only have two pairs); and my bumblebee costume.

Anonymous said...

Right ON. Why should our best, fanciest duds languish unloved when we can dress them down and wear them in our daily lives?

Seeker said...

You're so right, my dear!!!


Anonymous said...

There was another blog just yesterday that talked about "saving clothes" (in this instance it was jeans). I definitely don't believe in that and don't save anything! Also, when shopping for "special occasion clothes" I also try to keep in mind to buy something that can easily transition to my daily wear.

P.S. Just bought a belt from your Etsy shop and can't wait to wear it.

Anonymous said...

I agree!!

love that vest!


Diana said...

I really like the plaid cloche! The whole outfit is amazing :)

Glamour-Och-Fläskpannkaka said...

love your hats!

Pauline Wiles said...

I recently wore my anniversary-and-weddings-only expensive beaded cardigan to work and was pleasantly surprised how much it enjoyed its office outing.
But I definitely need to give some more thought to mixing things up this way!

ReaderV said...

Very good advice. I'm spinning thoughts on re-wearing some of my high dollar one night wonder outfits. Now, if I can figure out how to wear the silk outfit which looks like a combination between Tiffany glass and Frank loyd Wright's
Falling Waters. It's hard to imagine it ever leaving the closet with or without me.